My first painting yesterday was of a barn. The grillwork of a Model T glowed faintly in the gloom of the open door. I was interested in the apple tree, but thought fondly of Kari Ganoung Ruiz and how well she paints old cars.
The property owner eventually came over to chat. He knew exactly where I live because he visits the Owl’s Head Transportation Museum. He invited us to lunch, little knowing that for thousands of miles, Mary and I have fantasized that someone, anyone, would offer us a home-cooked meal. And this was the one day when we couldn’t accept, because we had an absolutely strict timetable.
And he had leftover pie. Geesh.
Mary’s license arrived in Rockport Tuesday, so she had a photo of it on her phone. Still, I insisted on driving the Calais-to-Rockport leg of the trip. Searsport, Belfast, Lincolnville, and Camden, each in turn glowing gently in a light rain. Then I made the last rise up Richards Hill and was home.
Would I do it again? Absolutely. I’ve learned a few things, however.
The most useless things I brought were my hiking poles. I never remembered to use them.
I packed very austerely for the trip, and still brought exactly 100 lbs. of stuff. My painting supplies and canvases were calculated just right; my clothes hardly mattered. However, I wish I’d also had:
- My painting umbrella and stool;
- Proper camping equipment including a tent, because that SUV really was impossible to sleep in;
- A more reliable car;
- An atlas of Canada. There is no substitute for a paper map.
I enjoyed everything about this trip, even when Mary was so ill. However, if I were to identify the most memorable moments, they would include:
- German bike tourists laboring up and down the Al-Can. That really is a strange hobby;
- Hiking to the foot of the Athabasca Glacier in an icy gale;
- All those oversized animal sculptures in small towns along the way;
- The Alaska Range, which is otherworldly;
- L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland, which is humbling.
We followed autumn as it moved from Anchorage to St. John’s. That meant getting snowed on occasionally, but there were many more lovely days.
The parts we omitted and regret:
- The Al-Can’s lower leg, through Destruction Bay. It was an either-or choice, but I wish it could have been both;
- Northern Manitoba and its myriad lakes;
- Northwest Territories and Nunavut. That would require a seaplane, however;
- Prince Edward Island;
I never painted a mine, waterfall, lighthouse (up close) or iceberg. And in five weeks on the continent’s northernmost through road, some of it sleeping rough, I never saw the Northern Lights.
I’m taking the rest of today off, by the way.